The First Get-together of FINTERDIS: Weaving the Community Ties between Interdisciplinary Scholars in Finland

13/02/2019

Text by Rūta Kazlauskaitė

On February 7, FINTERDIS organized its first event, aimed at bringing together scholars and students, engaged in interdisciplinary research. The main idea behind the event was to enable researchers and students to connect with their peers who are involved in interdisciplinary work.

FINTERDIS get-together, February 7, Thirsty Scholar pub
FINTERDIS get-together, February 7, Thirsty Scholar pub

Many of the participants to whom I talked during the evening expressed how they felt that their work, because of its interdisciplinary nature, was not appreciated or understood by colleagues in their respective discipline-oriented research communities. I hoped that by organizing such an informal event for interdisciplinary researchers FINTERDIS may enable the participants to, first of all, recognize that, while some of them may feel like a minority in their particular research community, there are many researchers like them in other research units, facing similar challenges. This is is especially pertinent to junior scholars, who may lack relevant networks and experience. Getting to know fellow interdisciplinary scholars is the first step to becoming more organized as a group that can subsequently seek to make its interests and concerns more visible and acknowledged within the larger academic community in Finland.

Group discussions during the event revealed that one of the most pressing challenges, especially for young scholars pursuing interdisciplinary research, is acquiring funding and learning how to operate in a discipline-oriented funding environment. Participants shared their experiences and personal strategies that helped them to secure funding. Coming from diverse backgrounds and fields, researchers also discussed what interdisciplinarity meant to them, why they wanted to do interdisciplinary research, and how such an approach affected the quality of research.

FINTERDIS received enthusiastic support for future events that would not only connect interdisciplinary scholars and students, but also render the challenges encountered by interdisciplinary researchers more visible in the context of Finnish academia. Stay tuned - we are working on an event that will focus on strategies for obtaining funding for interdisciplinary projects!